By Larry Levine –
Here’s a simple notion: let people vote then count the votes.
It may be simple but it’s not something embraced by President Donald Trump, the Republican Party, or Republican governors, legislators, elections officials, or judges. Instead they are working feverously to make it difficult to cast ballots, to frighten people and discourage them from voting, and to thwart the counting of certain ballots after they are cast.
It all seems to be driven by President Donald Trump’s statement early this year that if everybody voted Republicans would never win another election. It may be the only time in the last four years that he has told the truth.
While the campaign of Democratic nominee former Vice President Joe Biden has recruited volunteers across the nation to phone voters in key states and remind them to vote, the Trump version of phoning voters has included robocalls warning Democrats not to vote by mail because their ballots won’t be counted.
Trump lawyers have filed hundreds of lawsuits asking judges to endorse barriers to voting, strike down laws and regulations aimed at making it easier to vote, and to set the table for challenges to the results of the election should Biden win. Republican governors, legislatures and elections officials have erected a plethora of hurdles to make it difficult to vote in certain places and to restrict the counting of ballots. And right wing terrorists already have unleashed acts and threats of violence intended to intimidate people attempting to vote and destroying ballots already cast. Here are some of the lowlights from Trumplandia:
• They have asked courts to restrict counting of ballots that arrive in election offices after election day because of slow postal delivery even though dozens of states have laws permitting the counting of those ballots. Courts as high as the U.S. Supreme Court have sided with the Republicans.
• They have restricted ballot drop boxes to one per county in Ohio and gone to court to defend that position against Democratic challenges. Conservative judges have sided with Republicans on this one too.
• They have eliminated scores of polling places in minority areas likely to support Biden in Texas and Minnesota.
• They have opposed states that wanted to mail absentee ballots to all voters to make it safer to vote during a pandemic.
• They have challenged efforts to allow “curbside voting” by the handicapped or by people not wanting to enter polling places during a pandemic. Again, the court sided with the Republicans.
• They have sued to block laws prohibiting people from carrying guns into polling places and judges sided with them on this also.
• They sued to ban campaign volunteers from providing free rides to the polls for voters who need transportation and they won that suit.
• Whether wildcat acts of lawless individuals or part of some organized effort, ballot drop boxes have been set afire and legally cast ballots destroyed in neighborhoods deemed friendly to Democratic candidates.
• White supremacists are organizing to “defend” the sanctity of the vote by stationing themselves at polling places in minority neighborhoods.
• The Trump campaign says it will dispatch 50,000 unauthorized poll watchers to keep an eye on voters on Election Day. Based on what they have done in the past we can expect they will harass voters and elections officials in every way possible to cause backups at polling places that will discourage people from waiting to vote.
• A Trump campaign lawsuit has asked a court to order segregation of late arriving ballots so they can be challenged and potentially not counted. His lawyers have raised the specter of asking courts to invalidate entire state elections if the ballots are co-mingled. That would leave Republican legislatures free to determine how that state’s Electoral College votes should be cast, regardless of what the voters say.
If the election is close the Republican Party will spend anything necessary on court challenges to steal a victory. Conservative judges, all the way up to the Supreme Court, may well be inclined hand them that victory. They don’t have to win those court cases, only keep enough key Biden states tied up in court long enough to prevent them from certifying the election and appointing their Electoral College voters until the deadline passes. Democrats certainly would sue to extend the deadline, which would lead the whole thing right back to those same Supreme Court justices who just ruled Wisconsin voters will not have their ballots counted if the post office delivers them late.
We also can expect Republican thugs to attempt to break-down the vote counting process, as they did in Florida in 2000, by occupying elections officers and intimidating election workers in states that may be moving toward Biden.
Trump has refused to commit to accepting the results of the election. He has told a rabid white supremacist group to “stand down and stand by” and they have interpreted that as a call to action if Trump loses and challenges the validity of the election.
If Biden wins and the courts invalidate the result and allow Trump to claim victory, freedom loving people across the nation will be well justified in armed rebellion.
It is not a happy prospect for our nation or our democracy. It may be the only thing that will avoid the crisis of armed conflict would be a landslide Biden win big enough in enough states to make the election challenge-proof. How big that victory needs to be to discourage a challenge and survive a stacked Supreme Court is imponderable.